Is the learn/work environment just a space with a roof where people study and work from nine to five, or is it a means that can contribute to the organisational strategy and human health & well-being? The latter can certainly be the case, but then several business perspectives must be taken into account.
More than a functional shelter
As a real estate/facility manager, do you know that frustrating feeling of always being one step behind with the changing accommodation needs of your organisation? How would you like to be one step ahead in terms of reducing costs, but at the same time proposing accommodation solutions that are in line with the organisational strategy?
Accommodation is more than just overhead costs and operational excellence. The learn/work environment (consisting of physical, digital, and social) is a catalyst for people’s performance and well-being and therefore has a strategic impact. It is an important, but often an under-managed asset in an organisation’s value creation.
The learn/work environment is where integration is occurring.
The way in which an organisation is housed says a lot about the organisation, just as clothes say something about the person wearing them. A building is therefore much more than a functional shelter. It makes tangible what you stand for as an organisation. It stimulates the imagination and inspires action.
The main purpose of a building is to enhance performance to deliver the value proposition of the organisation using it. It requires a multi-layered approach. The key question is not what is the location, the required size of the accommodation and what are the functional and technical requirements. These are “only” the basic preconditions.
It mainly concerns the message it communicates and the effect the accommodation has on attracting & retaining talent and the behaviour & vitality of people.
“Show me your learn/work environment and I’ll tell you who you are
and how much your employees are actually valued.” (René Stevens)
Accommodation is part of the integrated strategy to deliver the value proposition. Excelling in one of the three value profiles product leadership (quality of product/service), operational excellence (cost & time) and customer intimacy (communication and experience of the brand identity). Constantly adding value and keeping the other two on at least a threshold level.
Now more than ever is the time for a post-COVID organization to find a healthy and safe mix between the physical, digital and social environment. Being one step ahead, reducing occupancy costs whilst providing accommodation solutions that resonate with the organisation’s broader strategy, objectives, increasing flexibility and optimizing systems performance.
For this to happen points for improvement are made visible in an accommodation roadmap and tested against the current situation. The roadmap is a modular Strategic Management Canvas, in which all the pieces click together and reveal the greater picture with the underlying independencies and connections. It helps to understand the key business drivers and indicators that promote the value proposition of the organisation. It is input for the intervention brief to close or mitigate the gap between current and desired accommodation.
Together with our client, we formulate the strategic accommodation vision and map out the requirements and wishes for the desired learn/work environment. We analyze and calculate both the current accommodation and possible alternative scenarios. Based on this, the options for refurbishment, renovation, new build, disposition and/or restructuring of the current lease or alternative rented accommodation are being mapped to make an informed decision.
Organisations sometimes face challenges to realise changes within certain frameworks. Or how to get from current to desired or to get a project back on track that has stalled. We help to implement the necessary changes as consultants or as interim managers.
Environment as an accelerator
The built environment that is aligned with the corporate strategy has a major influence on the success of both profit and non-profit organisations. On the one hand, the effectiveness and efficiency of the location, the building and the workplace are important, on the other hand, a building allows for powerful communication with customers/society and employees: the building as image-builder and team-builder.
The goal is a transformation process that is revolutionary in result, but evolutionary in execution.
Organisations are more effective when employees are intrinsically motivated and involved and therefore think along and participate, they are the engine and the heart. Whether it is ‘traditional working’, ‘the new way of working’ (HNW), Activity Based Working (ABW), ‘organisation-oriented working’, ‘people-oriented working’ or ‘social collaboration’, the built environment helps to facilitate desired behaviour to increase the added value of and for the people in your organisation. To realize ambitions.
In fact, it concerns strategy-oriented accommodation in which the organisational goals and the well-being of the employees are central and are translated into the learn/work environment. This is not about strategic planning – this is about strategic DOING.
A building makes tangible why the organisation does what it does, it helps to create a sense of community, it makes you proud and connects. Accommodation supports the policy of an organisation, it is comparable to a ‘theatre stage’ where everything takes place. Message and entourage must therefore be congruent.
“Most of the briefs for buildings are characterized by the analytical engineering approach to what the building can, which translates into a list of requirements and functions.
The emotional approach to what the building does to the users is usually lacking.” (René Stevens)
A building evokes a network of associations in people. It contributes to the realization of the desired sense of excitement and mobilizes the desire in people to belong and make a difference together. A building is a matter of mind and heart. In short, a learn/work environment that contributes to the primary process, the well-being of the employees, with an optimal cost-benefit ratio and in line with the sustainability objectives.
Organisations are always in flux as a result of internal and external factors while their accommodation is static. This requires a regular examination of the entire portfolio to see if it is still adequate or needs recalibration. With a quick scan, the quick wins, risks and effects in the medium and long term are mapped out. Based on this, scenarios can be drawn up and calculated so that you can make informed decisions. Our services also include instructing architects or entering into discussions with landlords to adjust the portfolio accordingly.
The following dimensions are considered to determine whether the learn/work environment is adequate.
- LOCATION – Is it in the right place, geographically in the country, city, campus, building?
- FLOOR AREA – Is it of sufficient size to accommodate the dynamic space requirement?
- PERFORMANCE – Is it sufficiently functional for education and research?
- PERFORMANCE – Is it sufficiently technically safe, healthy and sustainable?
- PERFORMANCE – Is it of a sufficiently aesthetic appearance, visible, recognizable and do the users experience it as pleasant and inspiring?
- HOSPITALITY – Is there a sufficient degree of hospitality?
- MONEY/TIME – Is the price/performance ratio market conform / customary acceptable and can we afford it?
- ORGANISATION – Is the learn/work environment manageable and do the RE/FM and IT Departments have the correct organisational form, competencies and capacity for this?
- ORGANISATION – Which (minimal) behavioural and usage agreements are necessary for an integrated social learn/work environment?
Accommodation from a business perspective
(Video is in Dutch)
The whole is more than the sum of its parts
By integrating our understanding of business management and the learn/work environment expertise, we create flexible, sustainable and future proof strategy-oriented accommodation in collaboration with our clients. Being aware that shaping change is a continuous process, we assist you in creating a tailor-made learn/work environment that suits your business strategy and organisation style. We not only make you think and come up with pragmatic solutions for your challenges but we also assist in implementing the proposed solutions.
The concept is the connecting factor between an approach from both the brand/company identity and from the physical work environment. The location, the exterior and the interior receive equal attention so that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. And people again become (more) emotionally and intellectually involved in the organisation where they work.
We do this on with our own over the years developed proven consultancy tools such as the AV-Strategic Alignment Matrix®, Office Styles® and the Real Estate General Positioning Survey® (RE-GPS®). See also the Dutch articles Strategic accommodation and The Strategic building unravelled.